The day started well with the arrival, from 08:00, of the members of the Somerset Military Lodge (SML) and the Provincial Team at RNAS Yeovilton. With no hitches at the main gate, they were all soon in the Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess, eager to get matters moving
With the arrival of both teams, last minute adjustments were made to the ‘Temple’ and rehearsals for both teams were soon underway. During the rehearsals, a steady flow of Brethren arrived who were greeted at the mess and all signed-in over a Lynx helicopter engine!
Everyone took time to explore the mess and to soak up the military and now Masonic atmosphere.
As time ticked by, you could feel the sense of anticipation increase. The Brethren were itching to take their seats and for this historic event to start.
At 14:00, with everyone seated, Barry McCormack, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremony, called the Brethren to order. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck: this was the moment that nearly three years of work had led to – the consecration of the Somerset Military Lodge 10021.
A virtually complete Provincial Team accompanied the Right Worshipful Brother David Medlock DL, Provincial Grand Master for Somerset, into the Temple. The Provincial Grand Master greeted all the 260 Brothren in attendance, before handing over the proceedings to Richard Winter, one of our Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, to carry out the consecration ceremony. Richard, accompanied by his Wardens, Clive Dunster and Ray Conneely, the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Robert Moore and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Barry McCormack, then carried out a sublime and faultless consecration ceremony, which all those attending agreed was first class and demonstrated the hard work that those taking part had clearly put in. The music during the ceremony was provided by Richard Kilburn, accompanied by Jerry Hellier.
The Lodge was then ‘called off’. With little time to savour what had just taken place, the Installation of our first Worshipful Master, Tony Guthrie, our other Assistant Provincial Grand Master, was due to start.
The Brethren did not need much encouragement to resume their seats, as again the sense of anticipation was palpable. Richard thanked those who supported him during the consecration and handed over proceedings to the Very Worshipful Brother Ray Guthrie (Tony’s father) to carry out the Installation.
The Installation was carried out faultlessly by Very Worshipful Brother Ray, with the culmination being the Installation of his son as the first Worshipful Master of the Somerset Military Lodge 10021, an honour for both. One of the highlights was the number of light blues who were admitted for the proclamations; there were over one hundred!
The festive board commenced on time at 18:00, one of the joys of being a Military Lodge. Jerry Franks piped ‘hands to dinner’ whereupon the Provincial Grand Master and our Worshipful Master were greeted with much enthusiasm. The food and service were excellent, the port and rum were well received, and many new friends were made.
The obligatory raffle took place, with an added bonus of an additional heads-or-tails game for the special prize of a bottle of SAS gin. This provided a moment of mirth, as a few Brethren clearly didn’t grasp the concept!
An amazing £3,085 was raised on the night and this will go to the Junior Ranks and Families Charity at the base. This also provides support to local non-military charities close by.
The evening was relaxed and very enjoyable. At 21:00 the festive board ended, with those wishing to remain being able to adjourn to the Queen Elizabeth bar in the mess to carry on with the celebrations.
I thank our Provincial Grand Master for his support and encouragement in forming the new Lodge, those taking part in the ceremonies, those behind the scenes, the mess manager Maria, Head Chef Jules at the mess and WO1 Nick Seal, Base Warrant Officer, for giving his permission to use his mess for this historic event.
Our first regular meeting will be held at Nailsea Masonic Hall on 1 October 2022. If you would like to attend or find out more about the lodge, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Secretary, Somerset Military Lodge 10021.